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28 10, 2014

Jeep Wrangler Transitions to Aluminum

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 October 28th, 2014|

2014 will see the launch of the Ford F-150. Fast-forward two years and another famous rugged vehicle will begin hitting the streets with an aluminum body. It’s time to welcome the Jeep Wrangler to the aluminum family. From AutoNews:

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler will feature an aluminum body to save weight, and will remain a body-on-frame vehicle, sources say.

Because Chrysler won’t make the switch to unibody construction, Wrangler assembly will probably stay in Toledo. And that means the company will likely produce more Wranglers for U.S. dealers and for export.

The Wrangler tale started in early October in Paris when Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was asked about two of his previous promises — never to build Wranglers outside Toledo and no more brick-and-mortar factories in North America.

In his response, Marchionne chose his words carefully. He said that the next Wrangler needed to lose weight and that doing so with aluminum might mean the Wrangler had to move elsewhere because of excessive costs to re-equip the Toledo plant for aluminum assembly.

He pointed out that Chrysler had excess capacity in at least two of its existing plants. But the two plants he named currently build only unibody vehicles, which can’t be built on the same line as body-on-frame vehicles.

As Jeeps are built and configured differently than trucks, we’ll surely be getting more details in the next year about how aluminum is incorporated into both the design and manufacturing of the vehicle. Stay tuned.

24 10, 2014

Chinese Automakers Follow Americans To Aluminum

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 October 24th, 2014|

We’ve seen how the American car market has pushed toward aluminum with Ford and Tesla leading the way. European car makers have also made notable progress in this realm. Now, a market we don’t usually talk about has made some noise on this matter. Enter China and their commitment to aluminum-based electric vehicles as a means to address both transportation and environmental concerns. From Bloomberg:

 

China’s drive to build electric cars is likely to set up a greater-than-forecast surge in demand for aluminum, according to Novelis Inc., the world’s biggest supplier to automakers of sheets made of the light metal.

 

China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, is mandating that at least 30 percent of new government vehicles be powered by alternative energy by 2016 in the government’s latest salvo to combat pollution and reduce energy dependence.

 

The use of aluminum in auto bodies by China, Japan and South Korea, Asia’s major carmaking countries, is around 50,000 metric tons and expected to grow at about 30 percent a year for at least the next decade, Shashi Maudgal, president of Novelis Asia, said in an interview in Changzhou.

 

We’ve seen aluminum become more than a trend with US automakers, but it looks like the rest of the world is following.

16 10, 2014

(Really Expensive) Aluminum Case Protects iPhone 6

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 October 16th, 2014|

You’ve bought a shiny new iPhone 6 but with horror stories of bent phones, you’re afraid to put it in your pocket. Never fear; for $2,000, Gresso has an aluminum case that’s built to withstand the rigors of life in a back pocket. From GSM Arena:

Bendgate is the latest

[something]gate to plague the iPhone and Gresso has a case to cure that problem. The case is for the iPhone 6 rather than the 6 Plus, which is actually the one with bending issues.

Still, Gresso is known for its luxury phones and a lot of machining went into the making of the Gresso Aluminum Bumper for the iPhone 6.

It was machined out of aircraft-grade anodized aluminum and features a patented hinge mechanism to clasp both the front and back of the device.

The case increases the force needed to bend the iPhone 6 from 70lbs to 300lbs.

The most important part of the article? “The bumpers are available in grade 5 titanium and 18K yellow or white gold. Prices start from a wallet-clenching $2,000.” Better start saving those pennies. Of course, by the time you can afford a $2,000 case, the iPhone 7 might be out!

Click on through to the original post for a video of this test in action.

10 10, 2014

News Roundup: Ford’s Aluminum Gamble Pays Off

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00 October 10th, 2014|

All sorts of Ford F-150 news today as we creep toward the official street date. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest aluminum-related news:

From Gas 2: “2015 Ford F-150 Curb Weights Revealed”

…the lightest 2015 F-150 you can buy is two-wheel drive regular cab model with the naturally-aspirated 3.5 liter V6, which comes in at a svelte 4,050-lbs. That, my friends, is actually lighter than the 556 horsepower Camaro ZL1, which comes in at 4,160-lbs (about 300-lbs more than a stock Camaro SS), and I’ve got to hand it to Ford, that’s a pretty impressive feat. Even with the 5.0 liter V8, the regular cab 2015 F-150 comes in at just over 4,220-lbs, and the smaller all-new 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 equipped models weigh in at 4,168-lbs.

From the Toronto Star: “If driving is believing, 2015 Ford F-150 is the best one yet”

Whether it’s a gamble or a game-changer is still up in the air, but Ford has announced that the next-generation Super Duty will also have an aluminum body. And you better believe the other truck companies will crunch those fuel and capacity numbers when they’re finally announced. But driving is believing, and after my time behind the wheel, I think that for performance and handling, this new F-150 is the best one yet.

From the New York Daily News: “Test Drive: 2015 Ford F-150 aims to redefine the pickup truck segment”

But the new Ford’s aluminum construction and turbocharged V-6s make it the most technologically advanced full-size pickup, and the weight savings pay off in increased capability and, most likely, improved fuel economy. Considering those strengths, this advanced new Ford pickup should have no problem maintaining its sales lead. It looks like Ford’s gamble was a good one.

 

The official specs are impressive and the early reviews are backing it up. Looks like Ford’s investment in aluminum is paying off — and the rest of the industry will soon

2 10, 2014

Six New Facts About The Aluminum F-150

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00 October 2nd, 2014|

We’ve been talking about Ford’s aluminum-based F-150 in broad strokes for quite some time now. As we inch closer and closer to the public street date, news outlets are getting more facts and figures about the bestselling truck line in America. Let’s see what USA Today found out in a recent report:

  • Sign-makers are working up removable, sticky-film decals because magnetic signs won’t stick to aluminum. You’ll still be able to proclaim, “My kid’s an honor student,” or, “Best Gutter Cleaning in Three Counties” using the new slap-on appliques that independent retailers expect to be selling soon.
  • Aluminum body didn’t cut 770 pounds of weight. About 500 pounds. The rest is from lighter steel frame, heavy use of high-strength, lightweight steel throughout the truck. The frame is 78% high-strength steel, up from 22% in the 2014 F-150.
  • The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 Ford’s promoting as a good blend of power, mileage will be a $495 option when the truck’s launched late this year. discounted from the $795 sticker price to get dealers to order the engine and buyers to consider it. Power ratings: 325 horsepower, 375 pounds-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. It will be able to tow 8,500 pounds. No official mpg ratings on it or the other powertrains until November. The 2.7 engine also will be offered as the high-performance choice in the new version of the Ford Escape Sport.

USA Today has three more F-150 facts in the original article, so click through to it and find out more about how aluminum has changed America’s bestselling truck.

25 09, 2014

Toyota’s Camry To Go With Aluminum

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00 September 25th, 2014|

The country’s bestselling car is about to get an aluminum makeover. And you can bet that the rest of the auto industry is watching.

The Toyota Camry is the bestselling car in America for 12 years running. With 300,000 models sold in the 2014 calendar year, any design change is a big deal — but it’s an even bigger deal when it sees part of the body change to aluminum. From Automotive News:

Toyota Motor Corp. is set to become the next global automaker to begin making the expensive shift from steel to aluminum for a high-volume vehicle.

The U.S.-built Camry, the country’s best-selling car, is slated to get an aluminum hood in 2018, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Toyota’s first foray into aluminum closures in North America will come next year when the 2016 Lexus RX 350 crossover, which is made in Cambridge, Ontario, gets an aluminum hood and liftgate, the source said.

The aluminum sheet for the Camry hood likely will come from a joint venture between Toyota Tsusho Corp., a trading company affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp., and Kobe Steel to produce more aluminum sheet metal in the U.S. Toyota will be among the venture’s first customers, several sources confirmed. Production is expected to begin in 2017 and ramp up to full output at the beginning of 2018.

What does this mean for the aluminum industry? It’s no longer a grand experiment put on by Ford and Tesla. Or as Monte Kaehr (chief engineer for the 2015 Camry) puts it, “It’s no secret that the entire industry is aggressively pursuing aluminum.”

18 09, 2014

Kitchen Hacks With Aluminum Foil

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 September 18th, 2014|

While the aluminum industry is focusing on its big fall launch with the F-150 — something that has produced some recent posturing from the steel industry — the Daily Meal brought things a little closer to home. Aluminum is great for car bodies and smartphone frames, but sometimes it can be used to help out with a few cooking ideas when you’re out of the proper equipment. From the Daily Meal’s 5 things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Aluminum Foil:

Make a tart. No need to buy a special tart ring if you have aluminum foil; just fold a long sheet of foil into a thin strip before looping it into a circle. Secure the circle by pinching the foil. Then, line the aluminum foil ring with your pie crust and bake as usual.

Make a complete dinner on the grill. Don’t dirty pots and pans when you can toss all the ingredients you need for a meal into a foil packet and then onto the grill. Try fish, potatoes, and fresh vegetables.

Make a funnel. From filling a cupcake tin to making pancakes, a funnel is one of those kitchen tools I always seem to need but never have on hand. In a pinch I make one using aluminum foil.

Prevent pie crust from burning. If you’re baking a pie and it looks like the edges of the crust are browning to fast, cover them in long, thin strips of foil; this will allow the center of the pie to continue cooking without further browning the outer edge of the pie.

Click on through to the full article for photos and the fifth aluminum foil hack.

12 09, 2014

Ford Tours F-150 To Show Off Aluminum-Built Toughness

2017-01-26T23:37:29+00:00 September 12th, 2014|

Ford knows that there are skeptics out there regarding the aluminum-built F-150 despite good numbers and strong buzz. To help get dealers ready for the big launch, the company is bringing the F-150 around the country to prepare dealers for questions and concerns from a curious public. From Fox Business:

Ford Motor Co. (F) is putting its new aluminum-bodied F-150 to the test.

FOX Business got an exclusive look at a demonstration event featuring the 2015 F-150, which is expected to go on sale later this year. Ford is visiting 26 cities to introduce the pickup truck to sales personnel.

The aluminum truck has been the talk of the auto industry since it was introduced at the Detroit auto show in January. Few production cars are made almost entirely of the lighter metal. The F-150 will be the first truck to use an aluminum body.

By switching from steel, Ford cut 700 pounds from the nation’s best-selling pickup. While the company has yet to release fuel economy estimates, analysts widely expect the 2015 F-150 to get better gas mileage than previous versions.

At the demonstration in Romeo, Mich., Ford pitted its F-150 against the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra from General Motors (GM), plus the Ram 1500 from Chrysler Group.

“We want our sales consultants to have confidence that this new truck is just as capable,” Eric Peterson, Ford’s F-150 marketing manager, told FBN’s Jeff Flock. “It’s got great performance and great capability just like the current truck. That’s what they get to experience firsthand.”

The F-150 is set for public launch later this year. Expect to see official numbers regarding MPG shortly before the launch.

2 09, 2014

Real Truck Drivers Put Aluminum To The Test

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00 September 2nd, 2014|

As we get closer to the public launch of the aluminum-based Ford F-150, Ford is already ramping up its PR campaign. Part of that is addressing the unknown quantity about how “tough” aluminum truly is. Most people continue to associate it with easily crushed soda cans, but experts with material properties backgrounds understand why it was chosen.

For the everyday Joe, though, sometimes it’s easier to simply see a video demonstration. From HybridCars.com:

Four truck customers have been offered the chance to get behind the wheel of Ford’s new aluminum-built, EcoBoost-powered 2015 F-150.

Ford started releasing last Friday the first of four videos in the “You Test” series; these videos will show, said Ford, how these customers tested the all-new F-150 at www.BuiltToughTest.com.

The company explained these truck customers were selected from more than 15,000 submissions, in which entrants described how they would test the toughness of the new F-150 pickup.

“Our four winners demonstrate how Built Ford Tough isn’t simply a tagline – it’s our brand commitment that F-150 gets the job done, day in and day out,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Group marketing manager. “The videos show real-world testing beyond testing already conducted by Ford engineers. This is what matters most – serving our customers.”

Click through to the original article to see all four demonstration videos or go to the official F-150 website.

25 08, 2014

The Great Aluminum Undertaking Begins

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00 August 25th, 2014|

With the public on-sale date fast approaching for the F-150,Ford has begun overhauling its manufacturing plants to prepare for the rapid ramp-up for large-scale production of the aluminum-based vehicle. The last of the previous year’s models are finished, and beginning earlier this week, the focus switched to implementing and integrating new equipment to oversee the aluminum manufacturing process. From Bloomberg:

Ford Motor Co. (F), the second-largest U.S. automaker, has begun an eight-week closure of its Dearborn, Michigan, F-150 pickup plant to overhaul it for a new, aluminum-bodied version of the top-selling vehicle line in the U.S.

“This is historic for the industry, not just for Ford,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, told reporters today at the company’s product development center in Dearborn. “To take the No. 1 selling vehicle for 32 years — it will be 33 soon — and convert it like this, at this volume, to aluminum, is historic and unprecedented.”

Michigan workers assembled their last 2014 F-150 early on Aug. 22 and crews began tearing up the plant to make way for the new equipment necessary to manufacture parts out of aluminum, Hinrichs said. The conversion began one day ahead of schedule, he said, and this weekend, 1,100 trucks will stream into the plant to deliver the new tools. By mid-October, the factory will be building the “production version” of the 2015 model, he said.

“This is a massive undertaking, one of the bigger logistical challenges we’ve ever seen,” Hinrichs said. “It’s been orchestrated literally by the minute, by the truckload.”

This is just the first step for Ford as the company re-evaluates its North American manufacturing plan. For more details, read the entire Bloomberg article.

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